The Foster City Council recently closed the books on fiscal year 2013-14 and are heading into 2014-15 so I thought I would take some time to tell you what we have accomplished this year and what we still have before us.
I am sure that most of you are unaware of the fact that some of our city employees have been working without contracts for at least the past year. In addition, prior to then, compensation was basically frozen and we had to reduce staff levels to deal with the 2008 recession. I am pleased to say that we now have labor agreements in place for most of our city staff. We did increase overall compensation by a moderate amount, but given the number of years our staff worked without raises, I must thank them for their patience and willingness to work with us. Our city is as wonderful a place as it is due to our employees, and having labor agreements in place, allows us to show our appreciation for what they do. I am very pleased with this accomplishment.
We have also begun the process of updating our city codes, starting with a new and modernized hedge and fence ordinance. Again, I am sure many of you did not know that we have height limitations on hedges in our city, but those have now been updated and there is a procedure in place to allow folks to grandfather in their existing landscaping. If you have tall hedges in your yard, this is something you should make some effort to learn about and make sure you deal with.
Another new requirement we put in place this year is that all major projects come first to the City Council for an advisory public hearing before they proceed through the development process. It appears that many of you appreciated this, as our first two hearings, on Charter Square and a proposed marina project, had the council chambers overflowing with people wanting to comment. This type of feedback from our residents and businesses is exactly the type of public participation we need, so thank you for coming to share your opinion.
This year we also moved a major step forward in our shared services model for our fire department, first bringing Belmont into the mix with Foster City and San Mateo, and now restructuring the truck service to allow us to provide enhanced services at lower cost. Much of the credit for this goes to our fire administration and our firefighters and I thank them for all they have done in this regard.
We passed a balanced budget this year for only the second time in a number of years. We approved a new daytime shuttle bus to bring people who work in Foster City to our shopping centers and restaurants. We started moving forward on the construction of Foster Square on the 15-acre site. We unanimously passed Foster City’s first economic development plan and along with the Foster City Chamber of Commerce held events at some of our shopping centers. We approved the installation of a restroom and other amenities at the windsurfing and kiteboarding area on East Third Avenue. Construction started on the second phase of the Pilgrim Triton project and the Chess Hatch office project went through the planning process. And these are just some of the highlights.
We also still have a lot to do this year. We are moving forward on changes to our smoking ordinance, we will be looking at citywide traffic and discussing the installation of bike lanes. We will be prioritizing our economic development plan and putting some particular pieces in place and making them operational. We will be putting solar panels on the library and working with various organizations to put together programs for water conservation and efficient energy use.
We will be working with our multifamily projects and homeowners association on various opportunities to improve our city’s overall sustainability and to ensure continued quality of life. We will be working with our businesses, large and small on sustainability, traffic, community involvement and the like.
We have accomplished a lot but we have a lot on our plate. Foster City is in relatively good shape, but long-term economic and sustainability issues are on the horizon and we need to work on those now and that is what we are doing. On a personal note, it is both an honor and a pleasure to serve as your mayor, but what we do, we do as a team, and I very much appreciate all the work done by our councilmembers and staff and by the many, many residents and businesses that help to keep Foster City a great place to live, work and play.
Finally, as a footnote, by the time you read this I will be posting podcasts of issues I think are relevant and important to Foster City as a way to reach out more often. You will be able to find and listen to those at http://cbronitsky.libsyn.com. I hope you find them useful.
Charlie Bronitsky is the mayor of Foster City. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 286-3504.